Nothing should make the world miss Dubya quite so much as the spectacle of reticence, delay and silly squabbling that has erupted in Libya.
First, Obama used diplomacy to slow down the impetus to act to save the nascent rebellion and its civilian supporters and bystanders. Forgetting the lessons of Bosnia, Kosova and Rwanda, Obama squelched moves to intervene.
Then, pushed by allies without and cabinet members within, Obama acceded to action. The UN acted in record time, for the UN, but by then it was the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute. If anything has been saved by the intervention, it was saved at greater cost and less effect than if action had been taken days before.
Then, acting just like every other POTUS since and including Washington, Obama showed little respect for his duty to consult with Congress and seek its approval before making war.
Then, suddenly loath to spend money and concerned about the undefined mission of the operation, he insisted that the US would not lead the coalition for more than a little bit.
And so now, the Germans are pulling out of NATO, the French and the British and the Italians are at odds with us, and no one is even attempting to define what everyone is doing or why. And all that when the objective should be clear: we are protecting the lives of insurgents, moving toward coordination of their ground operation with air support to pressure Gadaffi to surrender power and leave the country.
This is not a failure of leadership. This is a stubborn refusal even to consider exercising it. It's symptomatic of a lack of experience in making decisions, of never having faced consequences for the failure to act, of imagining that collective leadership can function, and ultimately of being more concerned to keep one's own image and record pure than to something that might matter to people who would otherwise be killed by a tyrant.
Anybody remember Martin Niemöller's famous quotation? Anybody see how continually insisting that we don't have a national interest in this or that ruthless dictator's slaughtering of his people rings hollow after awhile?